Question about Acer Aspire AM1620-B1209A MiniTower Desktop PC & 20.1 LCD Bundle

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Acer AM1620-B1209A powers on but does not send video signal to monitor even after installing new video card.

I am trying to troubleshoot a problem for a work associate from my partner's job. The computer was given to me with the description of "it won't turn on." Upon hooking up the computer, I discovered that it does power on, but will not send a video signal to the monitor. I hooked the monitor up to my personal laptop, and produced a video image in duplicate of what was on the laptop's screen, so I deduced that both the video cable and the monitor were in working order. I then figured that the onboard video port perhaps was bad. I ordered and installed a video card in the expansion slot on the motherboard. I received the same results: initial "Acer" logo, then "No Signal" appears on the screen. I then hooked up my LCD television that has a video port on it to the computer. There again, was no picture from the computer. The unit itself powers on, the NIC card has lights, the CD drive opens, shuts, and has lights, and the heat fan works. Since all those work, but the video does not, and installing a new video card did not help, I am at a loss as to what to do next. I thought a new motherboard may be the solution, but I am not completely convinced that the motherboard is bad since the computer seems to work minus video output. Can anyone offer a viable solution?

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  • Amanda Ryte Dec 04, 2012

    Thanks everyone. I purchased a new power supply, and the problem was not resolved. I cleaned the memory and the problem was not resolved. I am now searching for a replacement motherboard. Or should I REPLACE the memory first? If I buy a new motherboard, do I also need a new cpu, or just use the one on the present motherboard? Feels like I am rebuilding this computer.

  • joecoolvette
    joecoolvette Apr 03, 2013

    Posting for recent problem. It is closed now, sneaking it in here. Use a SATA adapter card, Also do not forget about the Windows digital 'signing' of the Windows that is on his SATA harddrive now. You ARE putting the SATA haddrive into another computer.


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  • Acer Master
  • 5,660 Answers

Long read; better put the coffee pot on

I would like you to entertain the idea, that the Power Supply has a weak voltage power rail.


A) The two leading causes of desktop computer failure, is the computer is dirty inside, and Power Supply failure.

B) Although a lot of pre-built computer manufacturers use low quality Power Supply's, 'Gunk' 'kills' them.
('Gunk' = Dirt, dust, hair, lint, food crumbs, carpet deodorizer, spider webs; you name it)

Clogs the Power Supply's cooling components.
Power Supply's used in today's personal computers are SMPS.
Switched-Mode Power Supply.
Let's view the inside of an average example,

I invite you to click on the photo of the open case Power Supply, at the upper right.
In-between the letters B and C; and C and D, are Heatsinks.

[B = Top view of Radial Aluminum Electrolytic Capacitor.
C = Transformer
D = Choke Coil ]

Finned rectangular block shapes, connected together in a row.
The Heatsink absorbs heat from whatever object it is placed against, and the rectangular fins radiate the heat away.
There is a small internal fan at the back, that helps to carry heat away from the fins of the Heatsink.

If the cooling components for the Power Supply are clogged with 'Gunk', their cooling capacity drops tremendously.
[Fan and Heatsink fins ]

Heat = Wasted Energy
The Power Supply overheats, but tries to keep up with the call for power, and eventually cannot.
Component failure inside.
A weak voltage power rail results.

C) 1) If ALL of the LED's were on at once, they would use less than 1 Watt of power.

2) EACH fan uses 2 to 3 Watts of power.

3) A typical Processor can use 51 to 125 Watts of power. Just depends on what Processor it is.

Reviews state the Acer Aspire AM1620-B1209A Desktop PC, comes with an Intel Pentium Dual-Core E2140 processor,

Can use up to 65 Watts of power. [ TDP = Thermal Design Power. 65W stands for 65 Watts ]

This is why Light Emitting Diodes may light, (LED), and fans may spin, but the computer doesn't work. (No Signal = No VIDEO signal )
Not enough power to turn the Processor on.
Weak voltage power rail.

(An optical drive uses about 10 Watts)

[There are three voltage power rails; 3.3 Volts, 5 Volts, and 12 Volts. All are DC Voltage. In comparison two D cell flashlight batteries produce 3 Volts DC.
The dangerous AC voltage is contained within the metal case, of the Power Supply ]

If when you opened the computer case you see a dirty computer, the Power Supply will be dirty inside also.

[ALWAYS unplug from power, and FOLLOW Anti-Static Precautions; BEFORE reaching inside a computer ]

When diagnosing a desktop computer problem, ALWAYS start with power first.

Is there a computer that has a KNOWN to be good, Compatible Power Supply, that you can borrow for a test unit?
Won't hurt it.

If not do you have access to a multimeter?
An economical model can be purchased for as little as $5 to $12.
Available at a multitude of stores.
An auto parts store is but one example. I have seen them on checkout aisle racks, at large discount stores.

I can guide you step by step in using.
(You will be testing for 3.3 Volts DC, 5 Volts DC, and 12 Volts DC.
Remember about two D cell flashlight batteries -> 3 Volts DC, in case you are worried about getting shocked )

D) Also suggest remove the Ram Memory module/s ('Stick'), and clean the gold plated contact pins, with a pencil eraser.
Average example of a ram memory module, as used in a desktop computer,

Everywhere on the ram memory module ('Stick'), EXCEPT the gold plated contact pins at the bottom; is the BODY.
Handle the ram memory module by the Body, refrain from touching the gold plated contact pins.
The Body is coated with a see-through protective plastic.

[Example shown is DDR Sdram. The Acer you're working on uses DDR2 Sdram.
DDR has 184 contact pins. 92 on each side.
DDR2 has 240 contact pins. 120 on each side ]

If you are using an eraser on the end of a pencil, and not a solid eraser, refrain from letting the metal band of the pencil, touch the gold plated contact pins.

Rub up, and down on EACH contact pin. BOTH sides. Doesn't really take all that long.
You don't have to rub very hard, or all that much.
Doesn't take much to clean the contact pins.

In fact when you are done, it may seem like you have done nothing at all.
The contact pins may not be bright, and shiny.
I assure you that you have cleaned them.
Doesn't take much 'corrosion', to make a bad contact surface.

Use air to remove the eraser dust. If you have a can of compressed air for computers available, use it. If not air pressure from your mouth will be sufficient.
(Also if a can of air is available, suggest use it to clean out the ram memory slots )

E) Motherboard;
When suspecting motherboard failure, look first at the Electrolytic Capacitors. (Radial Aluminum Electrolytic Capacitor)

Acer is a budget computer company. May not seem like it for the price paid for that Aspire M1620, but they are.
As such they use low quality Electrolytic Capacitors.
(That is, the motherboard manufacturer who made the motherboard for them, did)

Better motherboard manufacturers use solid Polymer capacitors.
A whole LOT less chance of failure.

Therefore the Radial Aluminum Electrolytic Capacitors on a motherboard, are the weakest link.
Very seldom a Northbridge chip will go out, or a Southbridge chip.
If so you will KNOW it. They will be blackened, (Burned), or blistered.

The motherboard chipset design for the motherboard, in the Acer computer you are working on, uses a Northbridge chip, and a Southbridge chip,

[CPU = Central Processing Unit. Another term used is Microprocessor, or simply Processor for short.
It is NOT a personal computer designation. I keep telling people this.
You will confuse information with using the wrong designation ]

Look at the Acer Support specifications again.
The motherboard chipset, (System Chipset), is an Intel 945GC - Northbridge chip, and an Intel ICH7 - Southbridge chip.

The Northbridge chip is under that tall shiny finned Heatsink, sitting below the Processor, and has Foxconn in the middle of it.
Heatsink removed, (And Thermal Glue), you would see Intel part number - Intel 82945GC.

The Southbridge chip is under the other small finned aluminum Heatsink. It sits to the Right of the white PCI slots.
Heatsink removed you would see Intel part number - Intel 82801DB

[ Chip and Chipset are slang terms for I.C.
Integrated Circuit, ]

Bet you use a test Power Supply, and the computer comes on.

For additional questions, or to have me clarify further on anything I have stated above, please post in a Comment.


(Yes. It looks as though I'm writing a book, or perhaps have a big head. What I am trying to do is cram years of knowledge in a few sentences for you, so you will have a good base in diagnosing desktop computer failure )

Posted on Nov 06, 2012

Testimonial: "joecoolvette had the most detailed and helpful advice, and stuck in there with me til the end! Thanks ever so much."

  • 8 more comments 
  • joecoolvette
    joecoolvette Dec 05, 2012

    You sort of are rebuilding that computer. The motherboard is the 'Building Block' of a computer. No, you do not have to replace the CPU. If you do not get the same motherboard as a replacement, you may have to replace Windows also. You may not. Read on. When Windows is put on a computer it assigns hash values to certain major hardware components. Processor, Motherboard, (Specifically the motherboard chipset, and BIOS program {Verison and date ), Harddrive, and graphics chipset. (Graphics card, or if Integrated Graphics; goes back to the motherboard again) {Integrated Graphics = OnBoard Graphics. Term hardly ever used anymore, but explains better. ON the motherBOARD. Graphics chip is soldered directly to the motherboard } Think of them as serial numbers, but with no personal information attached. Microsoft User's License states,"One GENUINE copy of Windows per ONE computer." If you change any two of the before mentioned hardware components, you may send a Red flag up. Windows may think it is being stolen. Taken off the one computer it was put on, and being put on a different computer. Changing a motherboard may send up a flag. If so, and if lucky, there will be a Windows activation screen come up. If so you are good to go. In the 16 added Comments read Dec 04 2012 - joecoolvette. Before going further, I would try replacing the SATA data cable to harddrive. Or test with a multimeter set to OHM's, and check it's continuity. Nothing saying that new Power Supply you bought is good either. I know. I'm just a 'Ray of sunshine'. An economical multimeter could have found out of the Power Supply was bad first, before purchasing. Jus sayin'. The dangerous voltage is contained inside the metal case of the Power Supply. To get badly shocked you would have to stick a metal rod through one of the ventilation holes. 100 to 240 Volts AC coming in, depending on what country you are in. 3.3 Volts DC, 5 Volts DC, and 12 Volts DC; comes out. Testing continuity of that SATA data cable, means touching the ends of each wire, with the two probes of the multimeter, Positive (Red), and Negative (Black), and with the multimeter set to OHM's. It isn't a specific reading you are really looking for, just A reading. See if the wire is good, not how much resistance. Economical multimeter runs $5 to $12 here in the States. Can guide you.

  • Amanda Ryte Feb 25, 2013

    Thanks joecoolvette for your most descriptive and informative response. It has been a while since I last posted anythigng, but there was a delay in continued work on this particular computer due to cash flow issues from the "customer." She has now given me some funds to continue work.

  • Amanda Ryte Feb 25, 2013

    Just to recap, I have tested the original power supply with a multimeter, and found absolutely no response on any pin. I replaced the power supply and it still did not solve the porblem. I originally changed out the video card, to no avail. I am ready to replace the motherboard. I do not, however, know where to obtain one. I also do not know if it were better to replace with a like board or a totally new one. Please advise on this. Or do you think that testing the SATA cable is the better idea before buying a motherboard. I could really use your advise here. Thanks in advance.

  • joecoolvette
    joecoolvette Feb 26, 2013

    Amanda you ROCK! I cannot think of the last time in over 3 years on here, that someone posted they knew how to use a multimeter, much less own one. (Wiping a little tear out of me eye) Intelligent move. Have to have power first before the diagnosis can go on. IMHO you proceeded correctly. (As for taking so long to respond, "You don't call, you don't write,.........I wuz worried sick.....................What(?).................JUS KIDDIN' AROUND) Motherboard: Out of curiosity what shape were the Electrolytic Capacitors in? Visual inpection for 'bad caps' is in my solution. See the 6 of 'em surrounding the Processor? Little 'can's? Now look all over the motherboard. See 'em? THAT, is what I would suspect to be bad. One or more of them. Nope? Close visual inpsection with a bright light reveals no bad caps? OK. 2 to 0. Joecoolvette = 0. Did you clean the gold plated pins of the Ram Memory modules, as stated in the solution? (This is an added Comment. It also Bites because I am typing in 'ticker-tape' format, and no spellcheck. W-a-a-a-a! )

  • joecoolvette
    joecoolvette Feb 26, 2013

    (Geez I miss spellcheck!) Going with replacing motherboard: (Oh, yeah. YES. Replace the motherboard just about does it. It's considered half of the computer, when you state Motherboard + Power Supply. All that is left to replace is the Processor, and Ram Memory; unless there is a graphics card) Let's discuss Motherboard replacement, and the Windblows operating system: When Microsoft Windows is installed on a computer, it assigns hash values to certain major hardware components. Think of them as Serial Numbers for each hardware component, but with no personal information attached. Hardware components such as the Processor (CPU), Harddrive, Motherboard; specifically the motherboard chipset, and the BIOS program, {Version and date} Plus the graphics chipset. Change any two of these hardware components, and Windows throws up a red flag. The way it is theorized, is that the Windows operating system is being stolen. Taken off of that harddrive, and put on another harddrive. Essentially, being put on another computer. This = No. Microsoft User's License states, "ONE Genuine copy of Windows per ONE computer" [Microsoft makes one Master disk, and from it all GENUINE copies are made, and sold to the consumer) So.............if you change the motherboard, AND are considering a Better motherboard; you ARE changing two hardware components. The motherboard chipset, and the BIOS chipset. (May not actually be the Integrated Circuit {'Chipset'}, but Would be the BIOS program, and it's date of manufacturer; that IS changed)

  • joecoolvette
    joecoolvette Feb 26, 2013

    Sorry. I need to quit adding all that additional information in paranthesis. What I am stating is if you go for anything but a direct replacement motherboard, you may get flagged. Point? IF, you are lucky the Microsoft ACTIVATE window will come up. (I will post info on this later on) However most are NOT lucky, and the window doesn't come up. So if you go for the same motherboard, you will have no problems. It will be the same motherboard chipset, same BIOS program and date. Use the same Processor, and Ram Memory. Graphics card also, if it has one. Customer decides they definitely want a better motherboard, d@mn the torpedoes? Fine. The customer will have to buy a new genuine copy of Windows, though. UNLESS you have the Restoration (Restore) disk. Mr.Pessimist here says you do not. Acer didn't give 'em out in that time period. (Watch me be wrong) Want to save their personal info off of the harddrive? SURE. After you put the disk in, and are asked, chose Repair. Non-Destructive Installation. The customer will not have access to any programs/applications they installed, or downloaded,; though. Just the personal stuff. Photos, music, videos, documents they have created, or downloaded.

  • joecoolvette
    joecoolvette Feb 26, 2013

    Chip and Chipset are slang terms for I.C. Integrated Circuit, The BIOS chipset has the Basic Input/Output System 'burned' into it. You press the Power On button. This plastic assembly in turn presses against the Power On switch. The Soft Power On circuit (Uses 5 Volts DC), is temporarily closed, and the Power Supply is turned on. The first chipset to receive power is the BIOS chipset. (About a 64KiloByte program for a desktop computer) The BIOS program is initialized. BIOS looks to see what devices are installed, does a Ram Memory count, turns the Processor on, and hands the computer over to the Operating System. (In this case; Windows) IF you are lucky and get a Windows Activate screen: Click on Activate. In the list I suggest click on - Call Microsoft. The screen will change. Click on the country you are in. The phone number will be displayed. Also on the screen you will see a series of blocks with letter/numbers in them, and a series of empty blocks. 6 blocks for each if memory serves. When you call the nice Microsoft representative, you are supposed to know what to do. You ARE a tech, after all. State Activate. You will be asked to state what you see in all of the filled blocks, one block at a time. Speak clearly, make sure they understand. They should repeat back to you. When they have all the blocks of letter/numbers, there will be a pause. ('Hold on') Then the rep will come back, and state letter/numbers to you, that you type in the blocks, one block at a time. Make SURE you understand the rep. Politely ask the rep to repeat, if you are Not sure. To start you put your mouse cursor in the first block, and left-click once. Afetr you type the series of letter/numbers for the first block, (6?), the cursor will automatically jump to the next box. Type the second series of letter/numbers, and so on. When you are finished ask politely to have the whole 'string' again. When you are done, there will be silence. You are supposed to know to go below to the right, and click on Activate. That's it, you're done! You have a new product key now. The old one in the holographic sticker on the back of the computer, is no good now.

  • joecoolvette
    joecoolvette Feb 26, 2013 Can't find one of these where you're at? NOT advertising for seller nor website, but when I buy off of Ebay, I chose Buy It Now. May pay more than I should, but I don't have to fiddle with an auction, AND I get the part. Jus sayin'. I would ask the seller what the return policy is. It IS an electronic item. Make sure you follow Anti-Static Precautions.

  • Amanda Ryte Mar 27, 2013

    Yippee!! I got the computer fixed finally. I got a new motherboard just like the one that was in the computer originally. There was no hiccups in the recognization of the operating system or other software. Thanks to joecoolvette and everyone else who helped with this issue. I have a new problem with a different computer that I will post in a new discussion. I would appreciate help with it as well :).

  • joecoolvette
    joecoolvette Mar 27, 2013

    H3ll, I KNEW you could do it, Amanda! Was never a doubt in me mind, lol!


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